Can this card save your life?

If you’re ever in an emergency room with chest pains one of the first the doctors will perform is an electrocardiogram (ECG).

But then they have to compare that ECG to an earlier one, to determine what’s normal or abnormal for you. If they can’t get their hands on an earlier one – which is true in the overwhelming majority of cases – they’ll have you wait eight hours and do a second ECG.

Of course they will also do other tests and start treating your symptoms.

But the eight hour delay between the first and second ECG can significantly affect the appropriateness of those treatments.

Dr. Ramesh Zacharias knows that situation all too well. He spent 25 years working as an Emergency Room physician. “If everybody had a copy of their most recent ECG on them, it could impact the care they receive”.

Arjun Kumar has had the same experience. His father operates a number of cardiac clinics so he has seen the problem often. But it was a personal experience a few years ago that really drove home the crucial need for instant access to past ECGs. “My grandfather was travelling in Florida and had chest pain” he says. “We got a call late at night and had to go and open the office to retrieve the ECG from his records, so that the ER staff down in Florida could compare it to the one they’d just run. It was literally a life and death situation. I immediately thought, there’s got to be a better way.”

This incident resulted in the creation of Kela Medical. The Emergency Protection Card is a 2½” x 3″ plastic card, the size of a credit card, that displays the holder’s most recent ECG. On the reverse side is the person’s name and basic medical information – blood type, medications, and allergies. There is no other identifying information such as address or phone number.

“This improvement in information availability will enhance health-care at all points of access: including emergency departments, family practice and specialist physician consultations. It will be an invaluable asset for the patient when travelling”, said Dr. David Fitchett, Staff Cardiologist at St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto.

The Kela Medical card is an example of a small-scale but innovative product that can be of significant help in emergency situations.

“The benefits for people who travel or require emergency room visits may include decreasing the need for unnecessary testing and may reduce the risk of medication errors” says Dr. Sol Stern, Family Physician, Oakville, Ontario.

For more information about Kela Medical and the Emergency Protection Card, click here or call (905) 665-KELA (5352).